Reading an account of the Round Oak Train Crash, I came across this passage:-
A good deal of suspicion, to say the least of it, must fall upon the hind guard, Frederick Cook, as to the mode in which the break of the last van was employed on the journey towards Worcester; and this suspicion is by no means lessened by the circumstance that he permitted half-a-dozen passengers to ride with him in his van, and that he employed one of their number, according to his own admission, to take the break off in two cases.
In descending the incline from Round Oak to Stourbridge, there were four persons acting as breaksmen in different parts of the train...
which fixes the spelling break in 1858. But no dictionary definition of brake I have been able to find mentions this older spelling. Does anyone know when and why the spelling changed? Is there some etymological reason for this?